Was Shakespeare Himself Anti Semitic
Uploaded by dang on Feb 17, 2008
The Jews were a group of proud people who were unfortunately discriminated against, humiliated and harassed by Christians mainly during the Middle Ages. Hostility or injustice directed at Jews is called anti – Semitism. There were many examples of anti – Semitism, including a famous playwright called William Shakespeare who wrote, embarrassed and made the Jews appear evil in his works. An issue that he brought to life was the fact that Jews are violent and practice usury (which can be observed in the Merchant of Venice when Shylock demands a pound of Antonio’s flesh).
Anti – Semitism was widely accepted and practiced by Christians, and this affected almost all of the Jews. They were blamed and criticised for many things such as usury, bringing bad luck, and for most uneventful happenings. Anti – Semitism further went on, and Jews were restricted to having jobs of low profession, and thus, some became considered to be socially inferior. However, there were a few who had successful jobs in being money lenders. Christian law decreed that money lending for interest was a sin, and therefore Christians were unable to take up this career. On the other hand, Jews weren’t bound to this law, and were free to do as they pleased. Another issue was that the Christians were vandalised nearly all of the Jews’ property. The synagogues, schools and houses were burnt as well as the prayer books. Soon after, the Jews were forced to live separate areas, called ghettos. These ghettos have been regarded as prisons, but Jews have also been able to practice their religion safely.
In 1290, King Edward banished them from England, and only a few remained behind either because they converted to Christianity or because they received special protection for the services that they had previously provided. The reason for this was because there were many superstitions and stereotypes going around about the Jews, and also because the Christians strongly detested the Jews. The Christians believed that the latter were devils and the anti – Christ, and this was the main reason why the Jews were hated. There were many actions that resulted from this idea: some tried to force the Jews to become Christian, while others tried to banish them from the country. On stage, Jews were portrayed as being clumsy, insolent, greedy,...